Everyday, news are filled with reports of “donations” provided by businesses owned by billionaire bourgeois compradors.
“Our companies are here to support all efforts, and we are continuously looking for ways to further extend help and support,” declared Kevin Andrew Tan, head of the Alliance Global Group Inc., the company that controls Megaworld, Emperador Inc., Resorts World Manila and McDonalds. He boasts of having “donated” P603 million.
Similar boasts have been made by other big companies such as SM, San Miguel, Bloomberry, Udenna, Aboitiz, Ayala Group, Globe Telecom, Jollibee, Metro Pacific, Coca-Cola, POGO companies, Filinvest, Okada Manila, TikTok, LBC, Pepsi and PHINMA.
In a pandemic and crisis, it is indeed a good thing that everyone chips in, especially the billionaires, to help in the country’s effort to overcome the threat of the spread of Covid-19. However the question is: Are the donations of big business now reaching P20 billion really untainted?
The simple answer is: No.
According to Revenue Regulation No. 9-2020 issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), cash donations, medical equipment and supply, relief goods and use of property “shall be considered fully deductible against the gross income of the donor-corporation/donor-individual.”
Donations can be coursed through the national government or any of its agency, including local government or government corporations, or registered NGOs, humanitarian organizations, institutions or foundation. This means, even donations to their own foundations can be deducted from their taxes.
Thus, Jollibee’s and McDonald’s “treat,” the PPE and relief goods “donated” by big companies, in fact, are to be paid for by government in terms of tax deductions.
Last April 22, the Department of Transportation announced it would pay Dennis Uy P35 million for the use of two 2Go ships as quarantine facilities for returning OFWs. The following day, Uy boasted he would not accept any payment and will shoulder the costs. The truth is, Uy will get more if the costs which he claims will run to P260 million will just be deducted from his taxes.
Beside the tax deductions from their donations, these companies also got to earn from their property idled during the pandemic. Among these are the lots and building that were used for the much-vaunted “mega-swabbing” center in the Sy family’s Mall of Asia, in the Enderun Trent in Taguig owned by Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and in the Philippine Arena in Bulacan owned by Iglesia Ni Cristo. The Yaps, the Ayala’s Razons and Villars, meanwhile, got the contracts to build the Palacio de Maynila “mega-swabbing” center.
The government has effusively thanked these companies. In fact, their “help” will be paid for at the cost of P511 at the expense of the government and people.
Through these “donations”, these companies were also able to sell their products during the economic and business lockdown. In addition, these companies got free advertisement in government radio and television where they were acknowledged everyday.
To capitalists, nothing is free or given away without returns. “Donations” coursed through various government agencies are actually “debts of gratitude” which they would likely use in the future. For example, Filinvest Corporate City Foundation can remind the Muntinlupa local government the test kit donations it gave just in case they face a land dispute in the city.
Big capitalists have played a major part in the Duterte regime’s Covid-19 program. Even the Department of Health’s data collection and processing has been contracted to Thinking Machines, Inc, a company recommended by Filinvest Corporation.
The planned staysafe.ph program for contact tracing was created by MultiSys, in partnership with private companies. This program aims to conduct widespread surveillance of the movement of individuals in the name of rapid contact tracing.